New Packard Plant owner cracks down on trespassers by stranding them

A bus full of tourists last year. (By Steve Neavling)

The abandoned Packard Plant already has its inherent risks – robberies, assaults and vandalized cars.

Now there’s a new danger: Park your ride on the sprawling auto plant and you may find it on the back of a tow truck, leaving you without wheels in a dicey neighborhood.

It’s part of an aggressive approach by the new owner, Peru-based developer Fernando Palazuelo, to keep out trespassers who are drawn to the 35-acre ruins that have come to symbolize Detroit’s industrial decline.

“We are working closely with the city and other neighboring property owners to clean up and improve the area, and this should serve as a clear warning that trespassers will no longer be tolerated,” Palazuelo told us.

The Packard Plant used to get a lot of visitors.
The Packard Plant used to get a lot of visitors.

Several cars have already been towed at the behest of Palazuelo’s security.

Over the past decade, the iconic ruins increasingly have become a magnet for adventurers, historians and photographers from around the globe, especially in the wake of the city’s well-publicized bankruptcy. Some have been brutally attacked and robbed; others were carjacked.

On Christmas eve, urban explorers found a dead body.

Scrappers at the Packard Plant

Not long after Palazuelo bought the property in December, his security chased away metal scrappers, who had grown bolder and more reckless, causing fires, tearing down buildings and trying to topple the enormous water tower.

Palazuelo hopes to transform the 111-year-old Packard into a mixed-use site over the next 10 to 15 years.

But there’s still has one nuisance he can’t shake – a man masquerading as a parking attendant. Johnny Revel has been offering what he says are authorized tours of the Packard Plant for money. Palazuelo has ordered Revel to leave the property months ago but he has refused.

“Johnny has nothing to do with us, but I see that he is still trying to make some money of the opportunity,” Palazuelo said.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Holly

    I was there in February (flew in for the weekend from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), and that friggin’ Johnny. Man alive. He was going on and on and ON about how he’s “not allowed to let people in, but we seem like good people so he’s going to let us go” like he was the GOD of Packard. He even went so far as to tell us that he met Palazuelo personally and shook his hand with the trust that he wouldn’t let anyone go in the building bla bla bla. Yes, we shouldn’t really have been there, but the actual “security guard” was cool about it…and then enter Johnny. HE was the biggest problem with the whole place.

  • Northville Tunnels

    Good for Fernando. Strand all those stupid suburban hipster douche bags. At least someone is making money in Detroit, Tow Truck Drivers. He is already making a positive difference. If they are not being towed lets hope that they are at least being vandalized.

  • Me

    A simple rule to apply: When you find a nickel on the floor
    in a store that you didn’t drop, it isn’t yours; you turn it over to the cashier–you DON”T keep it. This Packard Plant is NO different; it isn’t yours, stay out and don’t touch! You have no right to decide what is junk and what isn’t. This person whom purchased the building bought EVERY single brick, whether it was attached to the building or not. Everything has value; it’s not yours. Otherwise you are a thief!

    • 70 SS

      Who are you calling a theif??? I have done nothing more than take pictures and watch scrappers tear that place apart, while the city let them do it. I have not taken shit from that ploace, 2nd if you would keep up on the news of this place, the city of Detroit screwed up the auction and didn’t sell him all of the property, so technically he doesn’t own it all

      • Me

        Having reread my comment, I realized that the top box didn’t open, and it opened under your name. Sorry for the confusion. That comment was in general; not to you. I have been reading about the building. It doesn’t matter if the City owns some of it. The building should be secured, but if it isn’t it is still trespassing unless the City designates it as a Park.

  • Detroit Funk

    Um. What about securing your dilapidated property you asshat. Perimiter fences ? No ? Board up all entries to the structures ? No ? Where is Wayne County and the City of Detroit with the blight notices and condemnation paperwork requiring immediate action ? Mower Gang ? Why isnt the owner being ticketed for not mowing the grass with his own nuevo sols?

    I am so packing up and heading down to Packard, like right now.


    • Detroit Funk

      The City of Detroit owns the parcel in the photo showing parked cars, doesnt it ? #GrandTheftAuto

      • 70 SS

        D Funk, according to what Steve reported here the city claims that they still do, and so does Christini, I usually park right off Palmer on Bellevue between Allan’s entrance and palmer, like parallel park next to building, I know allan’s building is owned by a guy my co-workers brother married their daughter. You will be safe there, and security also can’t say shit if you start walking down bellevue between the buildings on the south end… it is a PUBLIC street.

        • Dust Buster

          i dont like slumlorsd one bit but we all know he could put up boards and fences and they would just get cut down or kicked in

    • 70 SS

      Might swing by there myself later this afternoon and see what top flight security has to say…lol it’s great when you know you are right and your rights.. would like to meet you and go ex-ing with the masters…I also agree with ya he should have to secure the open entrances, put up a fence or something, and YES he should be mowing his OWN damn grass

  • 70 SS

    Tom, Fernando isn’t going to make a dime off towing cars, but the tow company will. and I realize that it is dangerous and not a play park, but maybee Fernando should have a certin few that will give a guided tour of the facility, after all it is a really cool place with alot of awsome history.

    • Dust Buster

      its a dangerous site… also known as open and inviting nuisance. that means you dont explore it or play around there. now watch dirbag dopers like johhny “40 ounces to freedom) revel sue the guy when his drunk arse falls over a few cinder blocks and he hits his head

      • 70 SS

        Dust Buster,
        If you only knew the real way he hurt his knee you would be laughing your ass off, I do know, but dont want to expose my idenity on here, but lets just say that I am friends with Allan Hill, and he passed the real scoop on to Fernando’s law team. He’s not going to get crap,

      • dave

        even if someone is trespassing on the property, if they get hurt, he can still be sued because its not a secure building. even if someone breaks into your house and they get hurt, legally you could still be sued. jury may not see it that way. and may cost a pretty penny for a lawyer. that is why marty has fenced up Detroit Central Station.

  • Tom Nardone

    The Mower Gang was just down there doing some cleanup and we found the security guys really easy to work with, but they, like all of us, have a job to do. The Packard plant isn’t a playground or a public park. It is dangerous private property. Kudos for Mr. Palazuelo for towing cars. I hope he is making money off of each and every one and I hope that the money helps pay the taxes on the property. Our city needs the money.

  • 70 SS

    Fernando better be careful about what his rent a cops are doing….there are areas there that Fernando doesn’t own, If my car get towed due to the rent a cop not knowing which property they are susposed to be guarding. 2nd, some of the security guards are just as crooked as the scrappers, I have witnessed “security” driving around Jonnie Revel and they were so chummy that Jonnie even has his 24 OZ beer in the security’s cup holder in the center console. I know where to park and not get towed, if the rent a cops tows me, there will be a lawsuit.

    • Bob Connely

      OOOOOH! You be a bad-assed dude! Your fat ass anywhere near that property is part of the problem – that you’ve been crying about for years, no doubt.

      • 70 SS

        Bob….how dare you call me fat…you dont even know me you fuck, that is like me calling your wife or girlfriend a slut, and I havent been crying about anything…..If you think you are so big and bad, why dont we meet down there at packard and you can drive that fucking ugly baby shit green old piecce of crap in your picture, it will be safe, the color is so fugly, even the Hoods wont want to be caught in it.

        • Bob Connely

          Dude! That was a great reply! I enjoyed reading it! You’re right about the car color, too! Baby-poop Green – one of the many reasons Pontiac Motors is out of bidness. It’s good to see that there are people like you who are truly passionate about the Packard Project: too many people get a reply to their post, but they’re gone – something bright and shiny caught their eye. It’s folks like you that are going to make this project a shining example of what can be done when everyone pitches in! Thanks…

          • 70 SS

            Sorry for the “attack back” but so many people do just what you said, they bitch about stuff but then don’t do a damn thing about it or sometimes even make things worse. I am a big history buff, if you ever get a chance to do some research on packard they were way ahead of their time, they were the first with a steering wheel, air cond, automatic trans, and they built a battery powered car in 1910. I do agree that there are alot of people that go down there that shouldn’t due to the neighborhood but I grew up around stuff like that. I an a huge “gear head” and it sucks to see such history being erased by scrappers, kinda hard to tell by the pic, but now that I know its a Poncho, is it a bird or a goat? I don’t want to give away too much info on here because I run into alot of people exploring Detroits ruins, but I had a Texas X body if you know what I mean, and had to sell it, now I making due with a stang till something better comes along, sorry if there were any hard feelings.

          • Detroit Funk

            70 ss is 100% correct – since basically every parcel is up in the air still, and some are clearly the property of the City of Detroit, that if any car is removed from property not clearly owned by the Peruvian, that is GRAND THEFT AUTO.

            If any private security confronts you on property not owned by the Peruvian…well let us just say in legal terminology, that you have every right in the State of Michigan to stand your ground with lethal force.

          • 70 SS

            Thanks for the support D Funk I know that area pretty well

          • Gary


      • muckraker_steve

        Bob, please refrain from personal attacks. It’s the one rule we have on here. Let’s keep the dialogue positive. Thank you!

    • So you’re complaining (in advance) that IF they tow your car from somewhere that it should not be towed that you’d have an issue with that?!?

      I think most people would have a problem with it. They’d likely have a problem with it just about any business towing your car from a spot that they shouldn’t tow it from…

  • detroiter

    This is awesome. I love this guy.

  • A.L. Cadillac

    Yep, this will end well: when the trespassers get murdered and the most interesting man in the world gets sued for $100 million dollars.

    • Smartest OneHere

      go back to sleep.